Being geek

Over the weekend on Twitter, I asked what people thought it meant to be a geek. I decided to ask after sending out a link to crime writer Christa Faust’s (possibly NSFW) current campaign, when it occurred to me that crime fiction might not be considered geeky. I get excited about it, so it’s geeky to me, but I wanted to know what a bunch of other self-proclaimed geeks might think.

The responses I heard were interesting. Here’s a paraphrased sample: geeks are creators; are passionate, loving enthusiasts and not just fans; want to pursue knowledge beyond what’s just needed for normal application; are odd or non-mainstream people; willing to show unfashionable enthusiasm. You’re a geek if you get excited about something, regardless of what that might be. You’re a geek if you take joy in knowledge. Genre is irrelevant.

Two aspects jump out at me from these responses: knowledge and love. It’s incredibly easy to state a shallow definition of a geek; you like computers, or fantasy/sf, or comics, or RPG, and those interests are what make you a geek. But we who self-identify as geeks think the specific interests are less relevant than the depth of interest. We think the level of enthusiasm and study or even scholarship is what makes us geeks.

This isn’t exactly new ground. Michael Chabon covered it in his essay, The Amateur Family. (Sidebar: I have an abiding love for Chabon’s writing, and you may get sick of me talking about him if you’re here a lot.) The word he uses instead of geek is amateur, which I have no quarrel with aside from it making a lousy and opaque and possibly risque handle: @amateurstarter.

Knowledge and love. If you ask me, self-assigning to a group of people who believe that joy in knowledge and love are among their defining characteristics is a pretty great place to be.

Here’s a few quick links to currently running projects that sound cool:

Clang, a gaming project to build realistic swordfighting: (h/t @elquesogrande1)

The Garlicks, a graphic novel about a family of vampires: (h/t @EscapePodComics)

Ace Detective: a storytelling card game set in the 1940s noir era: (h/t @eFridayPfender)

Thanks to all who responded with their thoughts on geekery: @syntheticbrain, @eFridayPfender, @NotTimothy, @FryingSkyline, @PatrickStedem, @jemaleddin, @berkbig, @1000mortsDotCom, @derrangedferret, @nerderypublic, @BlessedStSean.


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